Local youth activists join ‘global climate strike’

Carissa Tsui, Senior Staff Writer

The fight against global warming continues after a youth-led protest 5 p.m. last Friday in Hamilton Plaza as the City of Palo Alto continues to discuss anti-climate change policies.

Fridays for Future, an international youth-led climate movement led “global climate strikes” across the world on Friday, with demonstrations happening in countries like India and Brazil. The campaign emphasizes prioritization of people over profit and climate reparations “not as charity but as a transformative justice process in which political power will return to the people” according to FFF’s website.

The event in Palo Alto featured speakers from Sunrise Movement, the Palo Alto Student Climate Coalition, FFF, and more. The Raging Grannies, a group of multi-cause performers, provided live music. Organizations including Mothers out Front, which consists of mothers fighting the climate crisis, were present with petitions and handouts at booths and tables.

Over 50 people gathered and marched downtown carrying signs that said phrases such as “The wrong Amazon is burning” and chanting slogans like “Human need not corporate greed!” in protest of large-scale usage of fossil fuels by large corporations.

“Big corporations screw us over every time,” Raging Grannies member Ruth Robertson said. “They’re polluting and they get away with that.”

Sanjana Sathishkumar, a speaker representing the Sunrise Movement and a senior at Evergreen Valley High School, spoke about the relationship between climate justice and social justice and how marginalized groups in particular experience climate change and fight against it differently.

“People don’t realize that sometimes the climate advocacy they do is actually exasperating already existing issues with society,” Sathishkumar said. “One example I can think of is with classism. A lot of renewable options or sustainable options are very expensive, so they’re not affordable to everyone … It has to be equitable for everyone across the board.”

Jenny Green, Mothers Out Front representative, was one of many who commented on the urgency of the situation.

“We’re coming very close to reaching a tipping point where we won’t be able to reverse the effects of climate change,” Green said. “We need to act now.”

The City of Palo Alto’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP), which aims to heavily cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and the Heat Pump Water Heater Program, which aims to use heat pumps to reduce usage of natural gas, were both emphasized at the event as steps forward. Speakers urged the city to take action and for demonstrators to attend the September 27 City Council meeting, at which both the S/CAP and the Heat Pump Water Heater Program were discussed. Both are to continue to be part of City Council meetings through October and beyond.

Though frustrations were expressed at the lack of action and policy reducing emissions and fossil fuel usage from governments and corporations, many still expressed optimism.

“We have a lot of hope,” Green said. “Especially when we see how the youth are involved.”